To our Elizabeth Fire District Citizens and Customers,
I first want to express my gratitude to our citizens that have invested so much in limiting the spread of this virus. Because of your efforts, I suspect that the number of cases in our area will be much lower than expected. We are grateful for your commitment and I know that these efforts do not come easy. The rules in this situation change very quickly and there are so many opinions and theories that we all find ourselves grasping for even the smallest bit of accurate information. Even your firefighters are trying to make the best decisions possible with so much dynamic information coming in on a daily basis. We do know that we need an entire community to make the best choices possible based on what is happening right here at home.
I would like to send a special shout out to all of our parents that are somehow moonlighting as educators while at home in isolation. This is a monumental feat and we appreciate your investment in our future firefighters.
Our Current Situation
Our call load has been slightly lower than average which is interesting. Although we are transporting COVID suspected patients on a regular basis, we seem to be transporting less patients that have traditional medical emergencies. This will be interesting data to work with in the next few months. Unfortunately our fire related calls have been on the increase recently with two families being displaced just in the last two weeks. Our wildland fire season is here with significant drying of grassy fuels over the next week especially in the southern leg of the County.
Our protective equipment supply inventory is holding up thanks to our wonderful community and our resourceful staff. Our County Emergency Management is working very hard to fight for ELCO’s share of Federal and State supplies and is distributing them as needed. Our administrative office will be transitioning back into the office over the next few weeks. We will still be limiting public access by appointment only until it is safe to open up publicly.
Our first responders have really enjoyed the connection with our local kiddos through our virtual outreach programs like birthday parades and coloring contests. If your young kids haven’t seen our “Books and Badges from the Tailboard” video series on YouTube, be sure to subscribe. Its even a little entertaining for the parents.
What Do We Need?
The First Responders are all doing well mentally and physically thanks to their training and support from our community. Overall, the focus has been on taking care of people that need it most.
As of today, our Firefighters Community Foundation has granted more than $16,000.00 to our local businesses to help them whether the storm. They are starting to deplete the funds available for this program but are hopeful they will receive more funding to pass on soon. If you need assistance or want to donate, please visit our foundation website at www.elizabethfirefoundation.com. All of the donated funds will stay right here in the Elizabeth area.
Ultimately, our crews seem to have the supplies and protection to do their jobs well. We are concerned about long time supply chains and funding issues. We know that this pandemic is hitting state and municipal governments hard right now due to significant decreases in sales tax revenue. We also know that county and special district organizations such as fire departments are planning for a decrease in revenue in the coming years as a result of the pandemic. Our leadership is starting to plan for the longer term impacts and we are looking at options to cut spending now so that we can more effectively absorb the impacts in the next few years. We have collaborated with other Fire Districts in the area to pursue grant funding for large projects that are looming around the corner. If awarded, these grants will help pay for critical protective equipment such as self contained breathing apparatus (the air packs on our backs) and bunker gear (our coats, pants and helmets). With responsible financial management and collaboration, I am confident we will be able to continue our service levels during upcoming lean years.
What Can You Do?
As I mentioned before, we are slated to have an above normal wildland fire season. We need your help in making sure that you have defensible spaces around your homes, addresses are well marked and driveways can support large trucks.
If you need some unique family activities, develop and practice a home exit plan. You can also test your smoke detectors when practicing the drill. I am positive that you all have tested your detectors and changed your batteries but why not test them again just to be sure?
Lastly, the "Stay at Home" order has evolved to “Safer at Home”. This relaxed version is a direct result of your commitment to yourselves and each other. Thank you for being so responsible. We aren’t out of the woods yet but things are looking up. Even though restrictions have eased up, we ask that you continue to practice the very tasks that have saved so many lives. It is indeed everyone's responsibility to wash your hands, mind your social distance and stay home when you can. We have a warm outlook and fresh air and sunshine should be on everyone's daily agenda. Regardless of the restrictions in place, if we can all choose to follow these guidelines, we will get through this as quickly as possible. We are all in this together and still fighting against one common Corona enemy. Our collaboration, respect, manners and teamwork will be a priceless investment in the future of our community.
As always, I want to assure you all that your firefighters will do everything they can to care for our community members no matter what. If you need something, call us. If we can’t fix it, we will try to find somebody that will.
Stay safe and healthy,